Our Advent pilgrimage this year will be more carefully focused as we spend time with the two families who are at the heart of this lovely season.
We will first consider God at work in the lives of Zechariah and Elizabeth. They have no children and, in that first century world, their lives are thought to be incomplete. To be without a son is to allow the family name to die and the male is lost to memory. Because of a defective view of biology, the fault always lay with the woman, so Elizabeth’s neighbors would have probably viewed her suspiciously. We all need to reflect on how God changes their story with the child they are ultimately given to nurture.
John the Baptist deserves his own special meditation. He has a remarkable role as the last of the prophets and the forerunner of the Messiah. It is a unique vocation that links him to the mission of Jesus. It deserves to be carefully enfolded into the days before Christmas.
We must also spend time with Mary and Joseph, a young couple who had had no idea how God would upend their lives by inviting them into the great drama of this blessed season that will bring God to earth. In our prayer time we need to acknowledge their real human fears and doubts which are part of every journey into the unknown.
We know where this story will end on Christmas Day, but the road is never quite the same because we are not the people we were last year or the year before. May we begin with excitement and with the confidence that our prayers will bind us to each other as we head to Bethlehem again.